Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Young climbers join fight for cure

Community School 13-year-olds need sponsors

Express Staff Writer

Best buds and outdoor enthusiasts Max Tanous and Garrett Rawlings designed these t-shirts to raise money to send them to climb Mt. Ranier on behalf of breast cancer research through Expedition Inspiration. Photo by Willy Cook

Max Tanous and Garrett Rawlings meet at the Wood River Y every morning at 5:30 a.m. Before most of the valley is out and about, the 13-year-old run and pump iron before going to school. Intermixed with homework, they will spend the afternoon and evening hours hiking or kayaking or maneuvering a climbing wall to round out their strength and endurance training.

What is driving this pair of friends is a commitment to climb Mt. Ranier in Washington where the ashes of breast cancer fighter Laura Evans were spread after she founded Expedition Inspiration, a group that climbs mountains to raise awareness and funding for breast cancer research. They call it Project 8000.

EI holds an annual symposium to share current research and gather experts in the field and supporters climb around the globe to raise money for the effort.

The boys have already gotten a grade of 97 percent on the project from their teachers who assigned them to create an endeavor with local and national impact.

Now they need the money to cover expenses and a $750 donation to Expedition Inspiration, which they hope to deliver after the late summer climb.

"Fundraising is our biggest obstacle, and training," Max Tanous said. "We've got our permit, the weather should be good, now we just need money."

Tanous said the two have been friends for the past four years, having bonded initially over their love for the outdoors. When presented with the school project, they decided to pair their climbing skills with a cause and Expedition Inspiration was the perfect fit.

They will venture over to Washington August 6-10 with teachers Rob Landis, Tom Boley and Bob Polk as guides.

T-shirts and raffle items have brought in nearly $1,000 so far, but they are hustling for more with a goal of around $3,500.

Tanous said they are confident they will make bank, but they aren't going to slack in preparation as they have been told the 14,000 foot peak is a physical climb.

"Heavy packs and long days," he said.

He said Project 8000 will give a quarter of every dollar to EI and they won't stop at Ranier, promising to climb higher and higher to keep the funds flowing in for the organization with the motto "Until there is a cure, there is a climb."

How to help

- Buy a t-shirt by emailing or

- Make a donation and visit

- Learn more about Expedition Inspiration

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